Is Coffee a Nightshade?

If you’re a hustler like me, then I know what your special secret is: Coffee. Coffee had been a lifesaver more than ever in this contemporary hustling era. With the evolution of grind culture at its peak, an energy booster is just what we need. Although over-consumption of our caffeine buddies leading to burnout rather than boost out is not out of everyone’s knowledge, I’m afraid there have been speculations adding to coffee cons. Ready for the big tea? (a bit of pun intended) Rumour has it that our latte saviors might be nightshade! Wait a minute, what does it mean? is coffee a nightshade?

Nightshade’s Origin and History

The term nightshade was first related to The Deadly Nightshade, now also known as Atropa Belladonna, in which its berries and leaves are used as a beauty product during the Middle Ages. We can see the reason behind its etymology, coming from Old English nihtscada that translates to “shade of night.” It’s referencing the berries’ dark color similar tonight, thus developing the shorter term “nightshade.”

But what was once used as a cheek blusher and eye-drop for dilated pupils soon turned into a fatal potion. Ancient Romans enhance their weaponry by dipping the end of their arrows with deadly nightshade for an immediate kill. The death of Roman Emperor Claudius was suspected to be caused by belladonna. La Voisin, a French poisoner known for her arrest in the Affair of the Poison in 1679, also uses belladonna in doing her assassinations. But what gave its fatal power is the alkaloids found in its fruits, roots, and leaves. Particularly hyoscyamine, atropine, and scopolamine. Its known effects are hallucinations, convulsions, and of course, death.

The Plant Family

Importing from its infamous history, the term “nightshade” has been applied to a broader family of plants. But the real question is, does coffee belongs to this?

Is Coffee a Nightshade?

The answer is, No (yes, you can now have a sigh of relief). Coffee is under the family of Rubiaceae, while the nightshade family is called Solanaceae. People got the idea that coffee might be a nightshade since they classify plants that contain alkaloids. While coffee does contain alkaloids, the alkaloid in it is caffeine and trigonelline. However, there are foods we eat daily that are part of the Solanaceae family. Tomatoes, potatoes, eggplants, and peppers are all included because they contain alkaloids of solanine. It serves as the plant’s built-in insecticide for its growth.

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Solanaceae Benefits

You might be wondering if a plant exists in the same family as a famous poison, how come it is still available in supermarkets? Well, nightshade foods aren’t that bad. They contain antioxidants like anthocyanin (found in eggplants) and lycopene (found in tomatoes) that reduce cancer risks. Peppers can give you a Vitamin C boost, despite being a nightshade food. But of course, others exist with a dose of fatality, such as tobacco’s cause of cancer. Despite the Solanaceae food’s benefits, be wary of the possibility of its intolerance and allergy.

With such a controversial past, it is no wonder why people held such high skepticism among certain family plants. Let alone if the only lining you’re holding on to get through Mondays might be connected to those on the apothecary’s shelf. I hope this article helped you chase your latte brew’s blue away.

References:

https://www.etymonline.com/word/nightshade

https://medium.com/an-idea/ten-famous-poisoners-and-their-hapless-victims-776419e36c50

https://www.singleingredientgroceries.com/nightshade-allergy-101-everything-you-need-to-know/

https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/321745

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